Moving Pictures

So here we are, moving very much into video when I had assumed that audio would be the first step forward in my AV experience. I’m not lucky enough to own anything particularly sophisticated with which to produce video content either. It is all very much being made up as I go along. However, what the last two weeks has amply demonstrated is how easy it is, with rudimentary knowledge of working practices, to produce something hugely professional.

Therefore, the world is pretty much mine to exploit as I now choose. The only limit is my imagination and the raw materials available to me. I’ve set a notional target of one sub two-minute video a week, which means Twitter and Instagram are both available as advertising media. We’ll start slow, because I know if I go too big too early it just makes continuation and continuity impossible to sustain. Picking 24 poems from the vastness of my own output is the least of my worries. The possibilities are, quite frankly, infinite.

Recording live video, as it transpires, is not nearly as problematic as might be the case either. Of course, it would be lovely to be able to afford state-of-the-art equipment or the opportunity to learn new techniques but allowing these things to hold back my progress when so many techniques and possibilities are easily available to me would be foolish. The process, undoubtedly, is more important right now. It is learning about myself as a writer, a photographer and ultimately as an artist, bringing all these elements together.

Change

Most things right now are pretty well-organised, so when I got to FINALLY being in a position to record audio for my own poetry, the process went remarkably well. What was immediately apparent however is that the presentation systems themselves require some thought, and that’s where we are now: how everything looks together, and finding a logo and strap line that can now take the website and my content to it’s next logical evolution.

I know some authors get physically uncomfortable when considered as a ‘brand’ and you can see these people from quite some distance away. Looking like you’re throwing it together as you go along is a skill that would, quite quickly, drive me into the ground with exhaustion. You must be a certain type of artist to succeed with that, and I’m just not. I demand far more order, focus and thought along the way, and so a new logo was born to show an increasing acknowledgement of these truths.

I will no doubt thank YouTube later for making me extract the digit.

I’m in the final production process for a number of videos that will be shown during World Mental Health Day, which I produced in my capacity as a Time to Change Champion. I am very proud of them, and they’ve made me realise what is possible if I set some quite rigid restrictions on how stuff is done. It’s also taught me a great deal about my own resilience as a creator, and that maybe this is a viable means of doing work going forward.

However, I’ve never really been comfortable reading anything to camera, which is why that’s not going to continue in public. I’ll be making audio-only videos going forward for public consumption, if you want to see my face you’ll need to subscribe to Patreon. I have a cunning plan, however, and the first part of it will go live on Thursday, alongside some specially-written poetry for National Poetry Day. I am really pleased with all my work this year.

We have come a very long way in the last twelve months 😀

Same Time, Same Place

I may have mentioned that a poem of mine is going to be published in a hardback anthology on October 1st (now did it, stuff is forgotten so quickly of late…) and with this publication has come a flood of memories from that time last year when the ambitious plan was born. Twenty-four poems in a month seems like a lot, but as it transpires that was exactly the right amount. It was also at the same time that I went into counselling, at the time to investigate the possibility I might be autistic.

It’s amazing how things alter once someone else is there to shift focus. What seemed to matter most back then had pretty much consumed everything that I was. The obsession over a diagnosis had driven everything for close to a year… and then, it became apparent that this was the least of my problems. Looking back at that time, the poetry was what kept me from falling apart. It gave a focus away from all the emotional and mental pressure. My home town became the backdrop for a process of self-healing that is still going on today.

Everything that has followed from that point onwards has pushed me further into a Universe that’s been waiting for my arrival for some time. It was the process of being able to contribute to a project whose validation came not from other people, but purely from myself. What I considered as good enough was the resultant 24 poems and hundreds of photographs, and to then find one of those poems considered good enough to make it into the Anthology… there was a whole second level of belief added to the first.

Sometimes, we need the approval of our peers to move forward. I won’t lie, the increasingly common instances where I am complimented for work, out of the blue, is a gift that continues to keep giving long after the initial moment of brilliance. Its why such moments end up being printed from the Internet and kept. Whatever else may happen, to have positively affected someone’s life, if even for a moment, if a rare jewel of brilliance, and should never be underestimated or belittled.

Over a year on from Places of Poetry, validation now happens in many ways. The dopamine hit is different, my needs and desires altering on an almost daily basis. What remains is the reminder of how much of a debt of gratitude I will owe Andrew McRae and Paul Farley, whose project allowed me to become a better version of myself whist the rest of my existence as in turmoil. That generosity will never be forgotten, and the lessons learnt will shape me as a poet and artist for the rest of my life.

Just a Little

This week’s been a bit unexpectedly brutal. You’ll be seeing this on a Saturday but it’s sitting in Thursday’s blog spot, for reasons that are all over social media. I assume that people read here and follow me, and therefore do my best not to repeat the same stuff. Therefore, if you wanna go catch up, this blog is not for you. Here is where it is admitted, to the room, there is a new poetry collection in progress. I dunno where it will go, or whether it will even see the light of day.

The key here is that it is demanding to be written.

So, why is there a picture of a tasty chocolate bar here? This simple confection has been the subject of a very vocal, extremely entertaining family ‘dispute’ for a couple of weeks now. It was the first time, in some time, I’d felt comfortable enough to really contribute to anything frivolous. Amazingly, the Penguin became a metaphor: you can be yourself, even if there are consequences. It is okay to be different, if you can accommodate other people whilst doing so.

Then, a publication I enjoy launched their pamphlet contest and I found myself thinking of reasons why I couldn’t enter. I’d be never good enough for them, there are other things in contest, you don’t need to do anything else… and there were reasons piling up to not try something new. My brain was already placing obstacles in my way, to produce something of the standard required.

I’m not going to be that person any more.

The rules, therefore, are simple: no miring myself in chaos. No stressing about it. Write when you feel like it, don’t get lost in the work. If it makes you overly emotional, walk away. The task here is a realistic interpretation of where you exist as a human being. If all that can be achieved, I’m doing pretty well. So far, I’m halfway through. Once this is written, I’ll probably do some more. Undoubtedly, as I do, a Penguin will be involved.

Being kind to myself is part of the new rule set.

Overload

I mentioned in passing on Monday that I’ve had an idea in my brain for a while that might work as a ‘proper’ collection of poetry: that is, a lot of pieces, which when strung together create their own, self-contained story. I’ve only worked with small numbers of poems previously, because the idea of anything over twenty at once quite frankly made me feel unwell.

However, a lot has changed in the last three months. Lockdown has been surprisingly kind to me in that regard, and whilst many are struggling to put anything worthwhile together, I really have thrived under the pressure. Therefore, not only is the idea for a massive opus no longer just that but exists (at least in two parts) on paper, but the theme that will hold it all together is clear: mental health.

I feel there is a great hole here, waiting to be filled.

randoradar#3

Nobody has experienced mental health difficulties in quite the way I have. It has created a unique mindset and outlook. Every word written is, like it or not, affected by that outlook: therefore if I can write a 70,000 word fanfic to a strict deadline I sure as fuck will make a poetry project come to life in the same timescale. What needs to happen is the setting for it all, and that’s already happening.

Putting the right foundations in place is the key, it is apparent already how that allows the business of words to correspond with ideas. There’ll also need to be a soundtrack too, and that’s being built on the newly-introduced daily walks around the block (note my block for this exercise is 4km long) as the rhythm of movement then corresponds to the business of lyrical suffrage. Trust me, that’s what it will be.

A great deal of suffering will take place for this art.

randoradar2

Many things are aligning, and radar is pinging back new places to be, other positions to consider. Every time something positive takes place that too sets up reverberations in the ether, possibilities previously not considered. I like these ideas being sonar, sounds from nowhere pinging backwards and forwards until their target is located. It appeals to the science part of my brain.

Strap in guys, things are about to get surreal.

Give a Little Bit

The #SixFanfics project is going very well, with the last two decades of content scheduled to go to the polls tomorrow. I’ve had a massively productive day and caught up on a ton of outstanding stuff, and now it’s time to start contemplating where to be placing my attention going into the second half of the year. In an attempt to pick up more Patrons, I have again listened to feedback over appropriate stretch goals.

It’s been coming for a while, but today dawned the understanding I need a website to sell stuff on before I can start selling stuff. An account on Gumroad’s sat gathering dust for some months, and it is high time to start getting it ready for use. I’ll be programming time in June (can’t believe I just typed that) to start organising the levels of content we’ll need to accommodate a virtual poetry collection, plus physical output.

I’ve produced a number of unique commissions this year, for special occasions (a christening and two weddings, if I’m being honest) plus I made all my Christmas gifts this year as one-off, special poems for all my mates. This is a revenue stream that needs more promotion than is currently the case. Therefore, over the summer, there will be plenty of opportunity to make this all a reality.

WSE New

I had something rejected this week that was, in my mind, probably the best piece of poetry I’ve ever written. It was the final straw that has made brain grasp that if I want success, waiting for other people to notice me is not enough any more. It is time to make the noise and push buttons and generally become what I have always been afraid of: a better person. This me is more productive, more proactive and more capable of changing the world around me.

This me is about to make everything better.

2020 Week 18 Poetry: Sow

Poetry is having a rest next week, because I’m pretty rammed in May as it is and taking on too much, I have discovered, is a sure-fire way to burn me out. Therefore, here’s my last bit of stream of consciousness for a while. I am proud of these as a group of five, and we’ll probably revisit/revise this lot a bit later in the year. It’s useful to allow your brain space to shift and move.

It is amazing what happens when you relax and let words flow unhindered…


Sow

Here we are, staring disconsolately, fallow time between main course and dessert, lost in relationship’s parched weeds, future; tense, relationship.

Two plated, hot then cold: between minimal, extravagance once expected, now deflated, content remains unknown, grown, soon cast aside.

Fork civility, spoon-fed platitudes scraped, pushing scraps abound, innate remnants, sitting tenants pile pointless platitudes, resentful moods.

There we go, separate bills, fallow lives, consequences reaped; to sow once more, swipe left field-hand, season begins again.

2020 Week 16 Poetry: Me

It is odd, sometimes, how the things we least expect to emerge in our work end up doing just that. This poem is a case in point: the events of this poem are 100% true. The verse maps out a real, difficult event in my late 20’s. There is one deviation from fact, for the sake of a convenient conclusion, but this will be the second time this particular moment has surfaced in my poetry.

I know why this happened, at this point in proceedings. Lockdown is taking a quite particular mental toll on the trauma-affected areas of my brain: last night was a case in point. Understanding that this stuff is happening is one thing: dealing with it, when it happens, another thing entirely. Getting it out of the brain and onto a page/screen is undoubtedly helpful, however.

Next week’s poem, as a result, is a differenty beast entirely.


Me

inhale
calm, nerves flattened
introductions
largely unnecessary
we’re all friends here
except, over there
errant thoughts
middle finger raised
not this again

exhale
sudden, unexpected
rogue elements
since when was he
on my side, big man
small aspiration
celebrations
largely unnecessary

regroup
now what, possibly
strong assertions
largely unnecessary
strategic withdrawal
consider enemy
unexpectedly
anything but

accept
possibilities, blossoming
directions shift
negotiations underway
largely unnecessary
mind’s already sold
axis powers pact
forgone conclusion

success
largely unnecessary
bigger picture painted
sacrifice worthwhile
middle finger salute
achievement unlocked
exit, stage left
phone number, meet hand

City of Blinding Lights

Those of you paying attention will know I was away this last weekend: some of the scheduled work has suffered (no poetry this week, sorry) but in the main everything has been surprisingly well-organised. The stuff that should have appeared will do so at the weekend. I’m only a day behind on the Playlists. Frankly, this is the best it has ever been. No really, no hyperbole; a new and interesting crossroads has been reached.

Everything is coming together: a poetry collection I can be genuinely proud of in final stages of re-write. Poetry that is a completely accurate and honest representation of what I am becoming in reality. There’s even a short story waiting in the wings, amazingly apposite for current circumstances. With my objective hat on, none of this is really just luck or coincidence either. Years of hard work is coming to fruition.

This is the consequence of looking upward, forward to what could be possible.

bowfail

A lot of times, it is easy to self-convince that targets are being hit: however, if nothing comes from your work but rejection, is that really a perception worth hanging onto? It’s the ephemeral, mystical value of ‘polish’ which I’ve spoken about before: something that you truly believe is as good as it gets, until back it comes from someone whose  subsequently published selections you neither grasp nor understand.

It takes a lot of hard work to re-write things you were convinced were perfect before, I’ll tell you. Except, there will come a point somewhere in that process where you’ll grasp an inescapable truth: you were deluding yourself. It’s never an intentional lie, but evolves from understanding that we all improve, over time, with practice. Writing, as we have also discussed before, is no different to exercising, or learning to play a musical instrument, or drawing.

The more you push yourself, the better things get.

isittrue

This week therefore is doing this with pieces of work I’m already supremely proud of. The unexpected bonus from this has also been the emergence of some new pieces that are making me genuinely rather excited: creativity will inevitably spawn more of the same, often in directions that are totally unforseen or surprising. Then one just has to try and keep the momentum going.

This will be me, making sure that’s exactly what happens in the next week.